Ultimate Standings: After LeBron, Miami Heat rise to No. 21 in rankings

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Miami Heat

Overall: 21
Title track: T18
Ownership: 7
Coaching: 45
Players: 19
Fan relations: 10
Affordability: 49
Stadium experience: 23
Bang for the buck: 74
Change from last year: +13

Despite last season's hiccup resulting from injuries, and an unexpected trip to the NBA lottery, the Heat maintain legitimate expectations of competing for championships almost every season. Considering Miami's three titles and five Finals trips since 2006, legendary front-office stability and the on-court presence of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, it's easy to see why the Heat are 21st overall -- they actually moved up 13 spots among fans with the departure of LeBron James.

What's good

Team president Pat Riley and owner Micky Arison have worked together for 20 years in Miami -- several generations of the NBA life cycle. With that sort of strength and leadership at the top and Arison's ability to connect with fans on social media, it's no surprise that the Heat are a top-10 team in the ownership rankings. And their track record of success is one major reason the Heat have shown no interest in undertaking a long rebuilding program. Indeed, the Heat hope to be ready to compete right now against LeBron's Cavaliers for the Eastern Conference title after adding Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic and Justise Winslow to a foundation of Wade, Bosh and Luol Deng.

What's bad

It's no surprise that Miami's fans found those 37 wins last season a little pricey, which left the team 49th in affordability and 74th in bang for the buck. And with Riley and Arison held in such high regard and the Heat's roster believed to be a strong suit, there's increasing pressure on Erik Spoelstra, the NBA's second-longest-tenured coach with a single team. While Coach Spo remains admired, the fact that his ranking is stuck at No. 45 suggests that he could be the scapegoat among fans if the Heat can't deliver postseason success.

What's new

The most dramatic change in Miami -- the sudden departure of LeBron James -- also led to the most counterintuitive result for the Heat in the Ultimate Standings: a 16-spot rise in the players rankings. The rankings measure "effort" and "likability" as much as they do talent, meaning that Heat fans have embraced Wade and his cohorts in the wake of the King's defection. It's the roster's rise that explains why the Heat have reached their highest level in the rankings in 10 years.

Next: Dallas Mavericks | Full rankings